There’s a little less than one month left before shopping centers become detestable and overbearing, ubiquitous political ads are swapped for holiday shopping promotions, e-mail blasts and crazy Target (News - Alert) lady commercials. Many may think we’re still a long way from the infamous holiday shopping season, but in actuality, we’re closer than we think. (I’m already half-way through Christmas shopping myself.) While consumers everywhere gear up for snagging serious deals, contact center managers everywhere have a far larger concern – ensuring efficient customer service during arguably the two busiest shopping days of the year, Black Friday (News - Alert) and Mega Monday.
We all remember her. Image via willvideoforfood
Contact centers need to guarantee optimum efficiency to handle this temporary yet critical spike in caller interaction. In light of this, I sat down with David Baker, VP of Servion, who explained exactly what needs to be done to prepare for both Black Friday and Mega Monday when it comes to customer service and call centers.
Baker begins by listing two options contact centers typically have when it comes to holiday preparation; adding additional staff or enhancing your contact center’s technology altogether.
“Adding staff may seem like the easier and right thing to do, but this is typically a matter of choice from the high-up executives who want their customers to have a personal touch when contacting their organization,” Baker says. “Although on the surface this sounds like a good idea, what usually happens is that your brand gets beaten up a bit during the holiday season.”
This, he continues, is because many organizations mistakenly think that tacking on seasonal agents is an end-all solution to handling heavy call volumes, but in actuality, this can be quite detrimental to business. These employees understandably don’t have the expertise, verbiage or “cultural initiatives” when compared to full-time employees, not to mention they can unfortunately slack on the job knowing that it will soon end after the holiday rush is over. “Hence, they are not usually as attentive to customer service as one of your regular contact center agents would be,” reasons Baker.
Conversely, adding or enhancing your contact center’s technology is key to ensuring customer satisfaction and business continuity. Yes, it may have more upfront costs, but it will be worth your efforts in the long run, Baker advises. One technology in particular to consider implementing for long-term rewards is an interactive voice response (IVR) system. Whether you implement one IVR system or add additional technology to an existing IVR system, you will be able to enjoy a slew of added benefits to help better ease this specific time of the year.
“Companies will be able to take more calls, reduce agent handle time, increase customer service and drive more business for the company” by implementing this technology, Baker says. “By automating the routing and repetitive calls that come into the contact center, you free up your agents to handle more pressing calls.”
Some examples of such calls include ordering a wrong sized clothing item or for those last minute shoppers who frantically call about their package arriving late. “These are the calls you want your agents handling,” Baker explains. “Let the IVR take care of the rest of the calls.”
“It’s never too late to bring harmony to your contact center agents and customers by implementing technology that will offload calls, increase customer satisfaction, improve customer retention and drive revenue,” Baker, an expert in the field advises. “This should be on every contact center manager’s holiday wish list this year.”
Edited by Rachel Ramsey